3 Reasons Learning a Language is a Great Idea
The prime years for learning a language are when we are very young. In fact, according to a 2018 article in Scientific American, it’s best to start learning a new language before the age of 10, although we retain good language learning abilities until age 18. Reading those numbers may seem disheartening at first, but it doesn’t have to be so. In fact, while children’s brains are the most flexible and capacious, adult brains are also perfectly capable of learning a new language. Plenty of people pick up a second, third, or even fourth language in adulthood—the paths to being a polyglot are many and varied.
It’s important to remember there are many reasons why adults are less likely to learn a new language that have nothing to do with neurological ability. Adults are less likely to be spending a great deal of dedicated hours learning new topics than youth are, for one. Also, we are less likely to be in an immersive environment—arguably the best way to learn a language. We may not be able to make time to take language learning as seriously as it needs to be taken. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn English or learn Korean, though, it means we need to find the best resources to do so.
If you’re considering learning a language, it’s very doable. Moreover, there are plenty of great reasons why you should make it a priority. Here are three of the top reasons why language learning is not only possible—it’s a great idea.
Boosting Brain Development
Learning a new language isn’t just a fun thing to do (although it’s also that), it can literally change the size and shape of your brain. A 2012 study by Swedish researchers showed the brains of subjects who had been studying one of three languages literally grew to a larger size as they added neurons in several regions. Subjects in a control group who had been studying non-linguistic subjects on a similarly intensive schedule were enriched, but their brains’ sizes remained the same. The growth was so significant as to suggest even less intensive language learning would likely boost brain development in adults as well. In other words, learning English, Spanish, or any other language will probably make you smarter in other realms, too.
Cultural Fluency and Empathy
When you learn to speak a language fluently you necessarily interact with the culture of the country or countries in which that language is spoken. When you’re learning Spanish, for example, you’ll likely learn about the cultures of Spain or various Latin American countries, depending on which form of Spanish you’re learning. If you’re learning Arabic, you may learn about the cultures of North Africa and the Middle East. This helps you be more at home in various global regions. Plus, it may actually make the language learner more empathetic. A 2016 study published by Psychology and Behavioral Sciences shows bilingual people may be more empathetic than monolingual people are. While this study is small (it only had 240 participants), this is pretty exciting preliminary information and it certainly makes sense. When we know more about other cultures we have a richer understanding of the world around us.
A Whole New World
Speaking of the world around us, it’s a pretty great place to visit. All of it. And those who are proficient in more than one language are more able to travel the world with ease. Forget the tourist traps and the overpriced bars and hotels—when you know the local language you unlock the door to experiences you would never have accessed as a speaker of one language. Eat at restaurants where no-one speaks English and eat like a local. Visit the special trails that are off the beaten track. Spend a night in the wilderness, where you need your language skills to understand everything that’s happening. If you only speak one language, your adventures will be fun but limited. Language learning is the key to a whole new world.
Just because you’re not a kid doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea to learn a language. Sign up for classes today and enjoy all the benefits of your new language skills. Then, certify your skills with a valid and reputable language proficiency test.